Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse Review—The Brotherhood of Dwarves, Book 4: Between Darkness and Light

between-dark-and-light-cover-4_final-webThe fourth book of D.A. Adams’s epic fantasy series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, takes place immediately after the Fall of Dorkhun. Roskin’s father, King Kraganere, is badly wounded, and Kraganere’s advisor, Sondious, has gone insane and usurped the throne. Meanwhile, outside the broken gates of Dorkhun, the Great Empire camps in the valley, preparing for invasion.

To save his father and the KiredurkKingdom, Roskin must unite the other Dwarven kingdoms in an alliance against the empire. Meanwhile, the half-elf, Kwark, sends Vishghu to convince her fellow ogres to aid the Kiredurks despite having just fought a devastating war with them. And Crushaw has a limited amount of time to turn a ragtag mass of elves into an army formidable enough to fight the empire.

And far to the east, a vicious and insane outcast has his own plans for the hero, Roskin.

In many ways, this book is what the three previous books were setting the stage for, BDal-Interior1and if the fifth book turns out the way the fourth book seems to be hinting expect to see some major epic battles to come, battles far greater than the one in here.

Adams has taken classic tropes in the genre that has existed since The Hobbit and has breathed fresh new life into them. While familiar enough to be identifiable, none of the races follow common stereotypes. It is a world more realistic, where not every elf or dwarf is good and not every orc is evil. And not all dwarves live underground: some, like Molgheon, are most at home in the wilderness. It is a world familiar to readers of Epic Fantasy but also possesses the grim and grit of Sword & Sorcery.

BDaL-Interior2Adams makes you care about the characters, about the relationships, and about the world. And instead of characterizing the human-ruled Great Empire in a two-dimensional light, he shows, through an imperial captain, the moral complexities of the choices between loyalty and duty in an empire that is becoming decadent and complacent. You actually feel for what the captain has to go through despite him being one of the enemies.

The series as a whole is one of the best you’re ever going to find, whether from small press or large, and the fourth installment will keep you reading well past your bedtime.

Best to read while listening to: any epic music (Two Steps From Hell perhaps?) or epic fantasy soundtrack (you know which ones).

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March 3, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | 2 Comments

SpecMusicMuse Review: The Fall of Dorkhun—D. A. Adams

Like dwarves? You’ll get plenty of dwarves in D.A. Adams’s The Fall of Dorkhun, the third book in his The Brotherhood of Dwarves Series.  After escaping slavery and surviving the Battle for Hard Hope, Roskin returns home to find his father’s kingdom at war with the ogres. Although his father wants peace, Master Sondious seeks revenge against the ogres after being crippled. Roskin and his friends find themselves caught in the middle of a treacherous coup as the human-ruled Great Empire marches toward the Kiredurk Kingdom.

Everything that makes for a great heroic fantasy is within the pages of this book: cool battles (but what do you expect from dwarves?), political intrigue, and believable characters that will grow on you as the story progresses. If you haven’t read the first two books (The Brotherhood of Dwarves and Red Skies at Dawn), you might want to do so before picking up this one; however, reading the third book without reading the first two didn’t leave me lost. Adams lets you know enough of what went on before for you to be able to pick up on the important parts of the prior novels, and all without needing a prologue.

It takes a couple chapters before Adams gets to the main plot of the story, but those parts are clearly bridges connecting the second novel to this one, and allows new readers to get to know the main characters if they hadn’t read the last two.  And once I was acquainted with the characters, the rest of the story became quite enjoyable to read. It also left me wanting to get the first two novels and anticipate the next one so I can read the entire series. Adams has crafted a detailed world that feels fresh and new despite using the (alleged) cliché of stock fantasy races like elves, dwarves, ogres, and orcs. He succeeds in this by making each character a unique individual instead of relying on stereotypes.

All in all, while not an epic masterpiece it is still a fun read, and The Fall of Dokhun is worth adding to your list of books to read.

Best to read while listening to:  the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, and Viking Metal of course! Amon Amarth and TÝR rule!

January 19, 2012 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | 2 Comments